Hiring a Moderator is a funny business and one that causes no end of confusion both for the person being hired and for the Administrator who’s hiring them. And, usually, it comes down to one specific reason.

The clue is in the name “Moderator”. Let's take a quick look at the actual definition of the word.

One that moderates, as:

One that arbitrates or mediates.
One who presides over a meeting, forum, or debate.

Do you see anywhere in that definition a mention of being a content provider? No? Well, that’s because it’s not what the term means.

Nine times out of ten when an Admin hires a moderator, they choose from the most active content providers on their forum and this is possibly the worst thing an Admin can do.

One of the biggest mistakes an Admin makes is looking at a forum and its activity (or lack thereof) and thinking
They follow this up with hiring their best content providers and then, after a few weeks, when their new moderator has stopped posting because most of their forum time is spent dealing with spam or mediating arguments between members, they complain that their moderator’s activity has dropped. Wrong, their activity has probably tripled – their content has dropped. So, why do they do this? For some reason Admins look at a moderator and think that means they must provide regular interactive content on the community for other members to respond to. No, the reason a moderator is there is to keep your forum a happy place where members WANT to interact. Their first priority is not providing content.

A moderator is there to do one job – moderate the forums. If you pluck them from out of your shortlist of most content-productive members, then you’re doing your forum a disservice, because once they become a moderator the likelihood is they will have little time to write those long informative posts that brought them to your attention in the first place.

Moderators should be picked from the people who have balance – who know when to respond and when not to, who know how to deal with intractable members, who can predict the flamewar about to happen in a thread because they know the members, they’re good at reading and handling people.

So next time you say to yourself “I need a moderator” stop and think. Is it a moderator you’re looking for or a content provider?

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